MADISON, Wis. - The Republican-controlled Legislature's budget committee has approved increasing funding for Wisconsin's K-12 schools by $500 million over two years.
Democrats and Gov. Tony Evers said Thursday that is not enough. Evers proposed a $1.4 billion increase.
The committee voted 11-4 along party lines to approve the $500 million increase, which includes nearly $100 million more for special education. Evers wanted to spend six times that much.
Republicans say this is the most the state can afford and it is their best offer. Evers says it is inadequate and he is optimistic he can work with Republicans to get more money.
In the last budget, schools received a $639 million increase. The battle over education funding is one of the central fights of the state budget, along with Medicaid expansion and transportation funding.
School official calls GOP plan 'mixed bag'
A lobbyist for the Wisconsin Association of School Boards says a Republican plan to increase funding for K-12 schools by $500 million is a "mixed bag."
The Legislature's Republican-controlled budget committee plans to approve the increase Thursday. It's $900 million short of what Democratic Gov. Tony Evers wanted.
School boards lobbyist Dan Rossmiller says under the GOP's $500 million increase "the typical school district will find a lot of good things" but "that's not to say that every district will be in great shape."
He calls it a "mixed bag."
Democrats oppose the smaller Republican-backed increase, but they don't have the votes to stop it.
Heather DuBois Bourenane, executive director of @WiscEdNetwork, says the GOP education plan doesn’t provide nearly enough funding for special education. “Why are we investing so little in the kids who need the most?” she asks. #news3now pic.twitter.com/h4KUvzQeqP— Rose Schmidt (@RoseSchmidtTV) May 23, 2019
Evers calls GOP K-12 plan inadequate
Gov. Tony Evers says a Republican K-12 education funding plan that is $900 million less than what he wanted is inadequate.
Evers reacted Thursday on Twitter to news that Republicans planned to approve a $500 million funding increase over two years. Evers proposed $1.4 billion.
Evers says the Republican plan "doesn't get us where we need to be." He says "The people of our state want us to fully fund our schools."
What's best for our kids is what's best for our state. That's why The People's Budget invests $1.4B in our kids and our schools, and makes an historic $600M-investment in special education. Unfortunately, the plan announced today by Republicans doesn't get us where we need to be. pic.twitter.com/xibtusIMkv— Governor Tony Evers (@GovEvers) May 23, 2019
Democrats on the budget committee vowed to fight the funding level, but they don't have the votes to stop it.
Republicans say it's all the state can afford. It comes after K-12 funding grew by $639 million in the current budget.
The Joint Finance Committee planned to vote Thursday on the GOP plan as it works to revise the Evers budget.
.@rep89, @LutherOlsenWI and @RepAmy31 hold a media avail ahead of a vote in the budget committee on K-12 funding.— Rose Schmidt (@RoseSchmidtTV) May 23, 2019
Olsen calls it a “good budget for education.” He encourages @GovEvers to pass it: “Schools need to know what’s going to happen in the next fiscal year.“ #news3now pic.twitter.com/inlDPhc7E3
GOP says Evers proposal was unrealistic
Committee co-chairman Rep. John Nygren said the Evers proposal was not realistic and was more of a campaign document.
He and committee vice chair Sen. Luther Olsen both say it wouldn't be worth it to veto their plan because it's not going to change substantially.
Republicans want to spend $100 million more on special education. That is one-sixth of what Evers called for.
When I asked the GOP leaders why they believe a $97 million increase in special education funding is enough as opposed to the $600 million @GovEvers wants, @rep89 says Evers’ plan was unrealistic and “more of a campaign document than actually a real budget.” #news3now pic.twitter.com/EEZMRMHdTZ— Rose Schmidt (@RoseSchmidtTV) May 23, 2019
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